2020: Air pollution in Istanbul, Turkey down 10%

Thanks to pandemic measures, air pollution fell around globe last year, says Turkish scholar

The rate of air pollution in Istanbul decreased by 10% last year compared to 2019, a Turkish scholar told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

With many people spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this has brought an improvement in air quality.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, a major air pollutant, has decreased by 10% in the Turkish metropolis, according to figures from the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and the Istanbul Municipality.

Increased air pollution can cause major health risks, said Huseyin Toros, a professor at the Meteorological Engineering Department of the Istanbul Technical University (ITU).

Despite the ongoing research and efforts to reduce air pollution on a global scale, “we continue to pollute the atmosphere,” Toros said.

Improvement amid pandemic

With the novel coronavirus pandemic, countries across the globe, including Turkey, took measures to curb the outbreak’s spread.

Human activity fell dramatically under these precautions, Toros explained, adding that there had been 25% less pollution in Istanbul’s air during April, May and November, when Turkey stepped up measures against the virus, compared to the other months when they were more relaxed.

He said that on weekdays last year, air pollution had decreased by 10% on average compared to 2019, with a mean drop of 23% during these three months and by 3% during the rest of 2020.

“When we look at the weekends, air pollution decreased overall by 7% in 2020 compared to 2019, falling 29% on weekends when measures were implemented and rising by 7% on weekends when there were no measures,” added Toros.

Turkey last year introduced nighttime and weekend curfews to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Urging people to act together to help improve the quality of the air, Toros said that in order to do this, “we must reduce fossil fuel usage and increase the use of environment-friendly renewable energies.

“As much as possible, we should live close to our workplaces. We can all reduce waste in all areas and use resources efficiently, sparingly etc. We can improve the quality of the air in our own right with the measures we take and those that we will take by different means.”

Anadolu Agency

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